I started this directory in 2018. Human edited directories were dead. There were a few around but not a lot. Discovery was all about search engines, namely Google and Bing, to the exclusion of everybody else. Webrings were dead, blogrolls had fallen out of favor, ditto RSS. It seemed like everything had gone commercial and all corporate suit slick and tricky and that maybe the fun part of the Web had died.
But there were pockets of webmasters building a web revival. Webmasters at Neocities, bloggers at Indieweb.org were not willing to give ground and let Web 1.0 die out. They started reviving old practices like using RSS, blogrolls, static sites – the fun stuff.
But we lost a lot of Web 1.0. A lot of the infrastructure built to support the independent web 1.0 had fallen into ruin or was just gone. We need to replace the best of this Web 1.0 infrastructure to continue.
Things have changed, mainly for the better, since 2018 so I thought I would give you my opinion on where we stand now in 2022.
Directories – This has been a pleasant surprise. While directories never quite died off, since 2018 quite a few new small directories have been built. I think Kicks Condor got people thinking about small directories again. On the big directory front Curlie has refreshed itself and come alive. The thing is, we need more. Directories come in so many styles, sizes, each with different features, categories, niches and collections of links. Some are geographical, some are topical, some are general and some are personal collections of cool links so there is no limit to how many directories there can be. For individuals who want to start a directory I recommend you find a niche that is under served. The best directory niche I see right now is for the non-commercial retro static html type sites. (Example.) The second niche would be a directory for non-commercial personal blogs. Or you can do a bit of both. (Example.)
Search Engines – Actually, great progress has been made on the search engine front. For the Slow Web we have Wiby.me, Marginalia and Searchmysite. On the privacy search engine front we have Mojeek, Brave Search, each with their own index gaining ground. Gigablast seems to have improved their algo and expanded their index. And other search engines with their own indexes are going through beta testing.
Blog Hosts – free and low cost blog hosting is an important part of the underlying infrastructure of the independent web. Unfortunately, we have sort of a mixed bag to report. The Negatives: WordPress.com and Blogger used to be the free gateway sites for those wanting to start a personal blog. The first seems to be focusing on expensive premium addons while limiting the free service. The latter has stagnated and nobody is really sure if Google will continue the Blogger service which puts a damper on using them. The price of domains and full WordPress script self hosting have risen a lot over the last few years which creates a bar to entry. The Positives: There is some good news in that quite a few new blog hosting platforms have started up, Micro.blog and others come to mind, and are helping to fill the gap.
Blogrolls and Link pages – Bloggers and retro webmasters have really stepped up on this front. Bloggers are once again creating blogrolls, a practice that many had abandoned. The resurgent surf-the-web movement among retro/yesterweb static site webmasters means nearly every personal homepage has a links page in addition to linked buttons to their friends homepages. It’s a fantastic thing.
RSS – just a few years ago RSS seemed dead. Even many bloggers has turned off their RSS feeds and feed reading software and services were slowly dying. Yet RSS is a way to by-pass the search engine duopoly of Google and Bing. But something has happened. RSS is making a slow comeback along with the underlying infrastructure. Even Neocities lets webmasters put an RSS feed on static websites somehow. Anyway, both webmasters and users are rediscovering RSS which is a good thing.
Static Hosting – Neocities, Neocities, Neocities. Neocities is really where the action is for hosting static sites for free or freemium. They offer a lot without ads and have created a community of webmasters. I’m not sure what the retroweb would do without them. We could use a few more hosts like them just so we don’t put all our eggs in one basket. I found little Vistaserv.net which sort of helps. If you know of others please tell me in the comments below.
Static Websites – (see Static Hosting above). This is going good and growing. To me it seems like an explosion of static sites but the reality is this has been growing since the launch of Neocities in 2015.
Forums – Forums are sort of the original social networks of the Web. They were great because you could start a forum on almost any topic large or small. They were decentralized before decentralization was cool. Forums fell out of favor after Web 2.0 social networks like Twitter and Facebook started. Yet somehow, forums never quite died and just about anyone with a C-panel type hosting account can start one. I’m seeing a younger generation starting forums because forums lend themselves to long form posts better than many other platforms.
Hosted Tools – remotely hosted tools used to be everywhere back in the 1990’s when almost all personal websites were static. Things like guestbooks, reply forms were desired and provided by third parties. Most were “free” meaning ad supported and when Geocities died they started dying too. I recently went hunting for these and the news is not good. Some companies are still around but with reduced offerings. Some old hosts seem to be operating but have not been updated for years. Some seem to be offering a fairly modern product but those are very few. Not a lot of health in this part of the infrastructure.
Webrings – I’m delighted to say I was completely wrong when I said webrings would not make a comeback. They have. Lots of coders have come up with scripts on how to start your own webring. Mind you I’m not sure how easy it is to manage a webring using these scripts but new webrings serving the non-commercial web are coming along all the time. Martha, there really is a webring revival.
Webring Hosting – I’m talking about centralized hosts here. Webring is dead. Ringsuf is on life support and closed to new signups. Bravenet pulled the plug on webring hosting years ago. (I wish Bravenet would dust off the old scripts and and lead the revival and bring webrings back.) That leaves only Webringo. They are still around and still function but the Web could use some new blood in this sector. See the old webring hosts had a lot of tools behind the scenes, back in the Ringmaster’s admin panel, that really helped the Ringmaster manage the continuity of the webring (ie. checkers for ring codes, dead site checkers and an email system to contact individual members.) Because when you get 200 or more members in a webring it becomes a lot of work to manage. I’m not sure the various new individual scripts people are using have this sort of back-end management features. UPDATE 23 June 2022: There is a new webring host webri.ng. It’s new and a bit spartan but you can host a webring there.
Banner Exchanges – Dead. It’s a pity. My first commercial venture, prior to the burst of the First Web Bubble, was a niche Science Fiction and Fantasy banner exchange. In fact, I built my first niche web directory to help find members for that banner exchange. Oh well.
So am I right, wrong, way off and if so how? Also what did I miss? Leave a comment below to tell me about it.
So you want to start a new blog but you want to keep it simple and the costs low. Here are a couple of blog hosts that I’ve recently come across that let you spend more time writing and less time fussing with features. Both of these are text-forward blogs which means they are about blogging in words and not pictures, videos or audio.
Mataroa – I like this one the best of the two. 1. Free or $9 per year for Pro, 2. No ads, 3. No tracking, 4. Export anytime, 5. Option to export as ePub ebook, 6. Comments, 7. your own domain (Pro), more. What I’m not clear on is if you can make static pages. I don’t see it mentioned. I do like the export as ePub feature good for a journal or diary.
Bear Blog – this one is sort of a work in progress. Right now it’s free. Paid features are talked about but not listed. It does have pages which I consider important. Also has RSS, an email newsletter, discovery feed etc. Missing is an export feature although one is planned, but beware. Also no comments.
I have been reviewing a lot of retroweb (yesterweb) type static HTML sites lately. These harken back to the Geocities sites of old and it was great fun seeing what is being built. Most of these are being hosted on Neocities which is trying to revive what we lost with the demise of Geocities.
Static Web Hosting
I ran across another small free host for static homepages: Vistaserv out of Australia which is like a much smaller version of Neocities. You only get one page for free but it has a HTML builder and they seem keen to have people build a homepage. Neocities has an active community going while Vistaserv seems more quiet, and sometimes quiet is preferred by introverts. Vistaserv strikes me as a good place for the homepage for a webring or something.
Remotely Hosted Guestbooks and Other CGI for Your Static Site
I noticed many static sites I reviewed have guestbooks just like they did in the old days. But static websites can’t run Perl or Php so they have to use remotely hosted scripts. Once upon a time there were many dozens of companies that provided remotely hosted scripts but it looks like most died off after the death of Web 1.0 and the rise of the corporate-slick Web 2,0. I’ve managed to hunt down a few though and placed them all in the Hosted Tools category. While we think of these things as tools for static sites, even some blog owners might want to have a guestbook and may need to use a third party hosted guestbook.
That’s it for now. Have fun building the Web.
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I am the crawler for the web directory. I found and added 9 sites today, 13 yesterday, about 9 the day before…
I can see why these newfangled search engines might catch on.
Yesterlinks Directory – a human reviewed directory of non-commercial websites. You can sort categories, search it, and add your URL. I find it refreshing that they do not require a link back before listing.
In other news, I added a new quote to my collection. Only I know which one it is. 🙂
I added two new pages:
Top Articles – this to help resurface some old articles from 2018 that got buried. People are starting to build some small directories again so I thought I’d spotlight them in case they help.
How to Add URL – to replace a page that got garbaged in some past update of the directory script.
Hello. I was going to write a post about how to surf the web only I remembered it had already been written, in a far more comprehensive format, by another person. So I’m just going to link to it and consider this my recommendation:
Follow Sadgrl’s guide which is chock full of different fun ways to web surf and you cannot go wrong. Look for link lists and blogrolls on the sites you visit they may lead you to interesting corners of the web. Surfing the Web was how we found new websites back in the 1990’s because search engines pretty much sucked for finding anything.
And I want to take a moment to appreciate the contributions of Sadgrl, who’s work to revive Web 1.0 style website creation I can only admire. She’s been tireless in building guides, resources, tools and communities all devoted to reviving the fun part of the web like it was before 2007. She’s like a knight in armor, with a shield made of GIF’s and an HTML sword, fighting tirelessly against the fell legions of commercialism. I’ve never met her or even talked with her, but I’m glad that she and her crew are out there building websites and communities.
What kind of Web am I going to surf?
In my mind I always divide the independent, non-commercial web into two very broad categories:
The Retro Web – these are like the sites you found on Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire and other free hosts back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The modern versions are a lot like Sadgrl’s website (above). The webmasters put a lot of time and effort into their websites. This is the really fun part of the web that I fell in love with when I first got online. I call it “the street fair of the web” where people post about things that excite their interests.
The Indieweb – which is mostly independent blogs. Not as colorful but loaded with text posts about everything under the sun.
That makes it especially tragic to report that nearly all the traffic to the site is now from SEO spam bots, presumably searching for all that elusive SEO spam-free content.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Everything on the internet turns into a spam or ad infested flow.
I wish I could help this person but I don’t have the technical skills to help.
Getting human traffic: Based on my experience with the directory, it takes a long time to get any traction with traffic from humans. 1. Having the blog helped and having articles that were more than site news helped. 2. For the directory traffic comes from a. webrings b. direct links from other websites c. social networks d, discussion groups e. other directories f. search engines supply some traffic to the blog only. SE’s don’t like listing directories. I get quite a bit of search engine traffic to the blog from DuckDuckGo, Bing, Mojeek, Wiby, Google, Yandex and and some smaller engines including Searchmysite.net. Together these add up to a steady little stream, but nowhere near commercial amounts of traffic. I got to say social networks helped a lot at the very beginning.
Things we can all do to help Searchmysite.net:
If you have a blog or a HTML static website with lots of text, add your site to the Searchmysite.net search engine. Help grow his index.
Try out Searchmysite.net. Try it as a surf engine. If you like it, add it to your blog roll or link page.
I have added quite a few new listings. Some are submissions and some are editorial adds.
Also added are some new categories:
Amtrak: under Recreation > Travel I added some useful guides for traveling on Amtrak rail. Because we have to decrease our use of cars and airplanes for travel so be need to start figuring out how we can use Amtrak.
Europe: under News I found these useful and not overly commercial.
Source for the additions is Seirdy’s excellent guide: A look at search engines with their own indexes. I did not list everything Seirdy does because many are so new and experimental they are not yet useful or interesting for the general public and frankly may not survive.
Other Site News:
I finally spotted Applebot crawling in the directory. This means Apple is still crawling which I think is a good thing.
Mojeek, the privacy respecting search engine that has it’s own crawler and index, has started it’s own community to get feedback and input from it’s users. The community, located at community.mojeek.com, focuses on what Mojeek is doing, features, feature requests as well as general talk about web search, privacy, surveillance capitalism, web platforms and more. The Discourse based forum is open to all.
This is a good move on Mojeek’s part. Through discussion and interaction they can get a more nuanced idea of what their users want, don’t want and find important. If you have preferences about what you expect from a web search engine you should register and give them your suggestions.
Marginalia Search is a new web search engine worth bookmarking, using and paying attention to. It has it’s own crawler, algo(s) and index.
What makes Marginalia Search different is it prefers text-heavy websites and penalizes sites made with modern web design. This means it filters out commercial websites because those are the ones being churned out for commercial sales or as advertisement farms while it favors text-heavy weblogs and HTML sites.
Marginalia is about indexing the content web and ignoring the commercial web as much as possible so it’s mission is very similar to our own here at Indieseek.xyz. Except as a crawling search engine, Marginalia uses much better technology and can scale better. This is a Good Thing, because one of the biggest complaints is that the Web has become boring and over commercialized. Marginalia Search is trying to address this.
So far, I’m really liking what I see here.
I have added Marginalia Search to the directory in the following categories: